U foundations’ endowments lose money

Tough economic conditions are threatening the endowments of the University of Minnesota Foundation and the Minnesota Medical Foundation, with both foundations reporting losses since the new fiscal year began in July. The Minnesota Medical FoundationâÄôs endowment, worth $249 million at the end of June is down 25 percent as of Oct. 31, with 13.5 percent of that drop coming in October alone, said the foundationâÄôs spokeswoman Sarah Youngerman . The University of Minnesota FoundationâÄôs $1.4 billion endowment was down 7.5 percent by Sept. 30, the end of the first quarter, said its spokeswoman, Martha Douglas. In comparison, The Standard and PoorâÄôs 500, an index of U.S. stock performance was down 17 percent in October . This year the two endowments had a combined payout of $138 million, which forms a large part of the UniversityâÄôs budget, supplementing professor salaries, providing scholarships, funding lectures, improving buildings and a host of other things. Without these endowments, the University would have to fund all these activities with state money, or through increased tuition. These short-term losses will not immediately reduce the payout to University programs, because that payout is based on a percentage of the average value of the endowments over the last five years. The payout is 4.5 percent for the University of Minnesota Foundation, and 4.75 percent for the Minnesota Medical Foundation . Both of the foundations have increased substantially in value over the last 5 years. The University Medical Foundation grew from around $750 million in 2003 to $1.4 billion at the end of June 2008. During the same period, the Minnesota Medical Foundation grew from $177 million to $249 million . The University of Minnesota FoundationâÄôs endowment lost 2 percent on its investments during fiscal year 2008, but it was still ahead of its three, five, and 10 year performance goals as of June 30. The Minnesota Medical Foundation, thatâÄôs endowment is heavily invested in the stock market, lost 6.6 percent in 2008 but was ahead of its five-year goal. Both foundations report that donations continue to come in, despite the difficult financial situation. Youngerman said because of philanthropic leaders stepping up, donations to the Minnesota Medical Foundation for the fiscal year through Oct. 31 are up 11 percent from last yearâÄôs donations during the same period. ThatâÄôs $13.9 million, despite some promised donations being delayed. Donations are still coming in to the University of Minnesota Foundation, Douglas said, but itâÄôs too early in the year to report a comparison, because such a large amount of its donations come in December. Unlike the UniversityâÄôs own Consolidated Endowment Fund , the two foundations handle donations to the University, both soliciting donations and making sure the gifts are spent as requested by the donors.